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Added: July 2, 2007
Article rating: 4 (of 5) - 5 votes

Science Of Influence

[ by Kevin Hogan ]
Capitalizing on the Need to be Led Learn how the mind operates and you can construct influential messages with ease! Facts: 70% of Americans once gave an opinion in a nationwide opinion poll about an Act that didn't exist. Some felt the states should take care of the responsibility, some felt the government should. 40+% more Americans chose the last option of three in asking what their opinion was on the ease of getting a divorce should be in the USA. This was true regardless of which option was offered last. Sales of jams in a store increased 10 X when people could stop by and sample up to six jams vs. those days the store offered booths offering 20 options. College students report cheating to be wrong in what appear to be anonymous forms. Given the opportunity, even those students reporting strong attitudes against cheating on exams, immediately cheat on their exams when given the opportunity. When pollsters ask people what is the most important issue facing the nation people respond with hundreds of different answers that are completely different and in greatly differing percentages when pollsters ask people to choose from a list of options which is the most important issue facing the nation. When people are asked about such hot topics as nuclear weapons they will respond with opposite opinions depending on how the question is phrased.

From these and dozens of other valid and reliable studies we conclude that:

People's opinions, thoughts and desires are often molded by the questions they are asked. People's thoughts, opinions and desires are often created in the moment and have little or no relationship with what they will actually do or what they will believe later. Many people have beliefs about things that are not real, based upon questions (like Acts of Congress) and not knowledge.

Key 1: Most people are fairly automatic in their behavior. They see a commercial and because they believe what they see without critical thought, decide what drink to drink, restaurant to eat at, tax preparer to use all based upon suggestion.

Key 2: Once most people choose something, write something down, say something, whether it makes any sense or not, whether it is in their best interest or not, they tend to stick with that decision, regardless of how that decision was made.

Key 3: People don't like cognitive dissonance. Most can't hold two opposing thoughts in their minds so they simply pick the thought/decision/belief they currently hold and eliminate the rest without further consideration. This is called the law of consistency.

The Law of Consistency states that, "When an individual announces in writing (or verbally to a lesser degree) that he is taking a position on any issue or point of view, he will strongly tend to defend that belief regardless of its accuracy even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary."

Your clients' past decisions and public proclamations dramatically influence their beliefs and attitudes. Once a person has publicly said, "I'll never X," they normally never do. Many people make public statements that they have not thought out, that often turn into beliefs and permanent attitudes. The reason is simple. We are taught that our word is our bond. When we say something you can count on us.

Former President Bill Clinton has been on both sides of this law. In 1994 his continual changing of his publicly stated positions cost the house and senate seats, creating a republican majority in both houses of congress for the first time in decades. In 1998 his adamant stand against talking about the Monica Lewinsky case for ethical reasons helped him build the highest popularity rating by a president in years. By consistently stating, "I'm going to just do my job," the country began to believe in Bill Clinton again and stood behind him as their president.

Did you know that 70% of all people are the same religion they were when they were raised as children? This is the law of consistency in real life action! The following graphic will illustrate the power of various religious sects to hold members over a lifetime.

Maintaining consistency is at the core of loyalty.

Percent of Current Members Raised in Same Faith

Source: Adapted from American Demographics Research.

Fundamentalists 52% Southern Baptists 86% Misc. Protestants 40% Other Baptists 77% Lutherans 75% Methodists 72% Inter/non-denom. 27% Liberals 49% Presbyterians 59% Episcopalians 54% Catholics 89% Jewish 83% ------------------------------------------------------- All Religions 70%

For better or worse, Americans expect and respect consistency and predictability. A recent research study had subjects make decisions among various choices.

Group A was asked to "remember their decision."

Group B was asked to "write their decisions on a magic slate and then pull the sheet up 'erasing' their decision."

Group C was asked to write down their decisions on paper with ink and hand them in to the researchers.

Which group stuck with their decisions? Right. Group C stuck with their decisions over 3/4 of the time. Group B kept their decisions half the time and Group A tended to change their minds. The lesson is to get your client to write things down as he participates in the sales process. He could write down anything from goals for the coming year to what he would really like in a car, a house, a stock portfolio or a vacation time share package. The key is to get a pen in the client's hand and have him write!

Never ask for a question which will pin the client down to a permanent "no" response.

How can you utilize the Law of Consistency in selling your products and services?


Kevin Hogan Psy.D., is a Professional Speaker and the author of The Science of Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion and, Irresistible Attraction

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